Alaska holds great salvation celebration
by Jenni Ragland –
Commissioners Philip & Patricia Swyers, Alaska Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, Majors Nila &Larry Fankhauser, Majors Mariam & Bob Rudd.
“Fill My Cup, Lord” was the plea of the nearly 200 Salvationists and friends who gathered for the annual Alaska Congress in Juneau. Congress Coordinators, Majors Larry and Nila Fankhauser, and their planning committee rolled out the red carpet to welcome delegates and visiting divisional and territorial leaders, including Commissioners Philip and Patricia Swyers on the occasion of their first visit to the Alaska Division. Also participating were divisional leaders from the British Columbia, Canada, Division.
With the Congress meetings held in Alaska’s capital city, Lt. Governor Loren Leman officially opened the Congress weekend as he welcomed delegates and shared personal words of appreciation for the ministry of The Salvation Army.
In true Congress tradition, lively singing, testimonies of personal victory and sharing from God’s Word encouraged the delegates to a deeper relationship with Christ. Fellowship around the dinner table was always enjoyable, with the opportunity to renew old acquaintances and make new friends.
Friday was the first full day of activity with separate rallies for the men and women, followed by the Community Cares Ministry Luncheon. During the luncheon many were recognized for their faithful service, with several receiving certificates for more than 30 years as Community Care Ministries (formerly League of Mercy) members. The evening concluded with a parade of banners as each corps was introduced to Commissioners Swyers. Each banner was unique in its representation of the Congress theme, much like the many cultures and people of Alaska.
As Sunday dawned, thoughts turned to Salvationists and friends promoted to Glory in the past year. Each was mentioned by name and honored during the memorial service. As the altar call was given following Swyers’ message, the cross in the center of the room was filled with those seeking renewal and healing.
As the Congress meetings came to conclusion, the Great Salvation Celebration lived up to its name as achievements of the past year were celebrated. Sheila Pitts from the Juneau Corps was announced as the Western Territory’s newest Honor Junior Soldier, three new Commissioner’s Sunbeams were presented with their awards and five new local officers were commissioned from the Juneau Corps. Sywers also had a surprise for the eight Alaska envoys present as he announced they were all awarded the rank of lieutenant effective immediately.
The filling of the Holy Spirit refreshed and renewed the lives of the Congress delegates to equip them for better service in their own community.